×

Hollywood gains ally with Waxman

Rep. to head Energy & Commerce Committee

First the Justice Dept. and now one of the key House committees: Hollywood has gained another major ally among top federal authorities.

Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat whose district includes Beverly Hills and other industry-heavy areas, will take over as chairman of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee when the 111th Congress convenes in January.

Waxman unseated longtime chairman John Dingell, senior Dem on the committee for the last 28 years, in a 137-122 vote in the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning. Dingell will remain a member of the committee.

Waxman challenged Dingell on the grounds that the latter had not moved fast enough on issues involving global warming and the environment in general. Michigan’s Dingell has often been a close ally of automakers.

The Energy & Commerce Committee oversees the Federal Communications Commission and also handles telecom policy at large. While Waxman has not been active on these issues in his previous job — chairing the House Committee on Government Reform — he is known to be tight with Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), another showbiz ally, particularly on intellectual property issues. Berman will remain a senior member of the influential House Judiciary Committee, which oversees copyright issues. Judiciary chairman John Conyers Jr. is also a strong advocate for IP rights and protection.

As one longtime broadcast lobbyist said, when media issues are before the Energy & Commerce Committee, Waxman “will probably defer” to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Markey chairs the subcommittee on telecom and the Internet. Markey has not been among congressional supporters of crackdowns on broadcast indecency.

Waxman is also close with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, another Californian viewed favorably by Hollywood.

Waxman’s relations with broadcast news orgs, in particular NBC News, were strained in early 2001 when he held hearings on the premature calling of the 2000 election. The congressman tried repeatedly — and ultimately unsuccessfully — to get NBC to hand over a videotape allegedly of then-head of GE Jack Welch pressing the news staff to declare George W. Bush the winner.

Dennis Wharton, exec VP of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, said: “We look forward to working with both Mr. Waxman and Mr. Dingell in the new Congress and in continuing to make the case that the news, entertainment and emergency lifeline services provided by free and local broadcasting are worth preserving and strengthening.

“With the economic downturn, media issues probably won’t be heard about for a while,” the lobbyist said. “But if anybody made out on this deal, it’s the studios.”

But the recording industry will likely be happy, too. Waxman has supported the push for a performance right royalty from broadcast radio (which broadcasters have called a “performance tax”), and he has been a leader in House efforts to curb illegal file-sharing.

Earlier this week President-elect Barack Obama chose Eric H. Holder to be attorney general. Holder, who was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, has a record of making intellectual property protection a federal priority.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content